Slave Narratives

from the Rawick Papers, Series 5
Conway, George
2216 Willis Street

Western Historical Manuscripts Collection
University of Missouri Columbia, Missouri
[Reported by] Norris, J.H. Sup. G.B. Doug.
Omaha, District #2
Nov. 9, 1936

George Conway 2216 Willis St., world traveller and soldier of fortune was born March 4th 1844 in Saline County Missouri. This old negro, born in slavery and owned by a Mr. Thomas Jefferson says that he will have completed his thirteenth trip around the world when he next arrives at San Francisco, California. His work as a slave was largely with the race horses owned by his master. He has ridden in races in Sidney, Australia. Since he was a caterer and a cook it enabled him to travel widely with the P.T. Barnum Show.

He came to Omaha from St. Louis in 1867 as a cook on the steamboat Gold Dust. The cargo consisted of railroad ties to be used in building the Union Pacific railroad. Whenever the Gold Dust blew the whistle bands of Indians would run to the river. It was then customary to roll a barrel of whiskey ashore with many tin cups. The leader was told they were not to break the head of the barrel until the whistle should be blown again. Then the Indians would have a big spree becoming very noisy, but never molesting the big boat.

He said that in those days a man was almost as liable to be run over by a deer, as he is now by an automobile. He claims to have spent four years with General Grant; to have been a soldier in the Civil War in the South in 1878; and to have been with the General, Jay Gould and other notables. (1)

Conway, George
Page 2

He lost his arm in a railroad accident south of Chicago while traveling with some race horses. (1)

He is a staunch Republican. He said, "I have always voted for Republicans for president when I have been able to vote. Sometimes however, I have voted democratic for local candidates. I voted for Grant and Colfax in 1868". (2)

His philosophy of a long life consists of being considerate to others.

He says there was much more water flowing in the Missouri river seventy years ago than there is now. (1)

Sources of Information:
(1) Personal Interview. (2) World-Herald 10-18-36.
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Document scanned by Carol Robinson.